My Cafcass Journey (what happened to me in my proceedings)
Subject Access Requests and My Cafcass Journey
This page has information on Subject Access Requests (SARs) for children and young people during or after family court proceedings.
A Subject Access Request gives you the right to obtain copies of your personal information and can help you to understand how and why we used information about you. If you make a Subject Access Request, we will support you to help you understand how Cafcass was involved in your proceedings.
If you are currently involved in family court proceedings, and have questions, please speak to your Family Court Adviser or Guardian who may be able to help you.
If you would like to know more about your Cafcass journey during or after your family court proceedings have ended, or if they happened a long time ago, you may consider making a Subject Access Request.
Lots of young people decide that they want to find out more information about their family court proceedings when they are older. You can approach Cafcass either during or after court proceedings, but please be aware that in most cases we keep your information until the youngest child involved in your family’s court case reaches 25 years old.
A Subject Access Request (SAR) is a person’s right to find out:
- what personal information an organisation holds about them;
- how they are using the personal information;
- who they are sharing the personal information with; and
- where they got the personal information from.
These are your rights under the UK General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection Act 2018.
We will usually provide information following a SAR directly to you if we think that you are old enough to understand the information. We will ask the Family Court Adviser what they think about this before replying to you.
‘My Cafcass Journey’ is our support to ensure you understand the information we share with you when you make a SAR. The process has been developed with help from the Family Justice Young People’s Board (FJYPB), a group of young people who have been through family court proceedings. The FJYPB has given us feedback on how we can support young people when responding to a SAR. As a result, you will, if possible:
- be given the opportunity to choose how you want to receive information; for example, to have it sent by email or posted to your home or another address;
- decide on how much support you might need to make sense of the information;
- receive a response which is easy to understand;
- receive a clear explanation when we are unable to provide the information you wanted; and
- be provided with links to other sources of help.
If you are still in family court proceedings or they have only just finished, it is best to speak to your Family Court Adviser or Guardian who can give advice about making a request.
If your family court proceedings have concluded, please:
- complete our website form, making it clear that you want to request a SAR; or
- email us at [email protected]; or
- call our Hear to Listen helpline for free on 0808 175 3333; or
- write to us at: Cafcass Feedback, Cafcass Post, PO Box 5076, Slough, SL1 0RX.
- We will acknowledge your request and confirm when you should expect to receive your response, which is usually one month from your request.
- Once we have allocated someone to work on your request, they will write to you to introduce themselves and provide you with further information.
- The person responding to your request will also ask how you would like to receive your SAR.
- You can contact this person whilst they are working on your response if you have any questions.
- Once they have responded, they will offer you the chance to have a call with them at a time that suits you.
- You can ask questions about what you have received which they will try and answer for you. They may need more time to answer all your questions or may need to put you in touch with someone else who can help.
- We will also ask you for your feedback on how we dealt with your request. This will help us to learn so that we can improve the service we provide to other children and young people who may be going through a similar experience to you.
- If you prefer, and you do not wish to speak to anyone on the phone, you can receive support or provide your feedback in writing by your chosen method, such as a letter or email. You do not need to provide any feedback if you do not want to.
We have one calendar month to complete your SAR. If we need more time, we will let you know as soon as possible and keep you updated on our progress.
The information which we are allowed to share with you depends on whether you were formally or directly involved in the family court proceedings. This is known as being a ‘party’ to the proceedings.
Sometimes, children are formally involved in family court proceedings but sometimes they are not, even though whatever is decided in the court can and does have a big impact on what happens to them.
- If you were formally involved in the court proceedings and were therefore recognised as a party to them, you will receive copies of the types of information shown below which we hold about you.
- If you were not formally involved in the proceedings, you will receive a description of the information we hold about you (because we are not allowed to share it with you). The list we provide you with will explain why we have the information, where the information has come from and if we have shared it with anyone else.
- The reason there is a difference in what you will receive is because we are not allowed to share information from proceedings with people who were not formally recognised as a party. This is because it would be against the Family Procedure Rules.
- The Family Procedure Rules set out the procedures used in family courts in England and Wales.
- If you are not sure whether you were formally recognised as a party to the proceedings, the easiest and quickest way to find out is to just contact us via one of the methods listed above. You can still make a SAR without knowing this information and a member of our team can help explain what the difference is in more detail.
- If you were involved in a Public Law court case brought by a local authority to protect you and to ensure you received the care you needed, you would automatically have been formally recognised as a party to the family court proceedings.
- If you were involved in a Private Law court case, you would most likely not be formally recognised as a party to the proceedings. Private Law cases are generally where parents need help from the court in making arrangements for a child. There are exceptions to this though, such as under rule 16.4 of the Family Procedure Rules 2010 where the courts may make a child party to proceedings if it considers it is in the best interests of the child to do so.
- We welcome any feedback you might have about how we dealt with your Subject Access Request. We aim to speak to everyone who makes a request to understand how the process felt for them and how we might be able to improve.
- If you are unhappy with your SAR response, you are welcome to ask us for a review. This will be undertaken by a member of our team who was not involved in your original response.
- We have 20 working days to respond to a review, but we might be in contact with you before then to understand why you are not happy.
- You can also contact our Data Protection Officer at: [email protected]
- If you are still not happy after we have reviewed our response to your request, you can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) at: www.ico.org.uk. The ICO is the UK’s independent body, which makes sure we are upholding your rights.